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S.I. Heads Up

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Just a forewarning that the print edition of the Sports Illustrated NBA Preview comes out this week and there's a ton of Blazer stuff in it. I've seen a copy of the Blazer material and it's interesting.  There's a long column by Jack MacCallum on Greg Oden, including these excerpts:

"All our holes," says shooting guard Brandon Roy, a surprise All‑Star last year in his second season, "are holes that Greg is going to plug." That includes defensive rebounding (the Blazers were tied for 20th in second-chance points allowed and were last in fast-break points, which are usually triggered by rebounds) and interior defense (they were 21st in blocked shots). "We were simply overmatched by big centers like Yao [Ming] and Dwight Howard," says coach Nate McMillan.

But it's undeniable that the focus is on Oden. He doesn't have to be Bill Russell from the outset, but he sure as hell can't be Kwame Brown. After all, it's a three-story-high Oden jersey that hangs from the side of the Rose Garden, and it will be the chant of O‑DIN! O‑DIN! (conveniently, the chief Norse god) that will reverberate most raucously through the arena when the Blazers are rolling. The long wait has only increased the anticipation to see whether pleasure delayed is pleasure doubled or pleasure denied.

That's a lot of pressure . . . for a rookie.

"They'll probably make me do some rookie stuff again," says Oden. "That's O.K. I'm so eager to play, I'll carry balls, luggage, whatever." Fortunately, he's not being asked to carry a team. Not yet, anyway.

Check it out if you get the chance.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)